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Old 01-08-2011, 10:37   #1
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Multiplexing: Digital Switching, E-Plex, C-Zone - Have it? Install it? Your Opinion ?

Hi All,

We are putting together a new boat, a 50-footer, and are looking at multiplexing as a way to simplify wiring, and provide easier monitoring and control of the systems. We also hear that it's The Way Of The Future (or something) from N. Calder, Victron R&D, etc.

We are working with a boat builder, so the installation will be done professionally. My question is about reliability of current systems.

As far as we know there are 3 systems currently on the market:

1. Mastervolt's Digital Switching. "A nightmare!" , "I will not fit it. Don't even talk to me about it." quoting the boat builder.

2. E-Plex. E-Plex has been on the market for some time and big boat builders are fitting it, like Lagoon, Sealine, Hanse/Moody, Princess, etc. Based on some forum threads they used to have problems in 2010, but no information about 2011.

3. BEP Marine C-Zone. They say they've fitted these systems on America's Cup boats. Their systems look rugged. But no usage information on the internet that I could find.

4. Too early for multiplexing. We should wait another few years and maybe think about it then.


We have decided to go with Victron's electrical setup, so we are looking at options 2, 3, and 4.

If you have any of the above 3 systems or consciously went with option 4, I would love to hear from you. For the first 3 options: do you find them reliable? how is the warranty service? any recurring problems? are you happy with the system?

Thank you in advance for your replies!
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Old 01-08-2011, 10:58   #2
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Re: Multiplexing: Digital Switching, E-Plex, C-Zone. Have it? Install it? Your opinio

Katiusha,

For E-Plex questions I highly recommend contacting James Kelly at PRS :jkelly@p-r-s.com

He knows way more than I'll ever learn, and as much as anyone I've talked to, about distributed power
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Old 01-08-2011, 11:23   #3
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Re: Multiplexing: Digital Switching, E-Plex, C-Zone. Have it? Install it? Your opinio

See Nigel Calder's three articles in Professional BoatBuilder Magazine (PBB):
Professional BoatBuilder Back Issue Index
Networking: The Three-Cable Boat - Issue 97, page 148
Networking, Part 2 - Issue 98, page 50
Shakeout - Issue 99, page 82
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Old 01-08-2011, 11:32   #4
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Re: Multiplexing: Digital Switching, E-Plex, C-Zone. Have it? Install it? Your opinio

Katiusha, what is your mission? Are you going to be circumnavigating or staying close to home?

The reason I ask is because the more complicated the systems on the boat the less likely someone in the outer reaches of the world will be able to successfully work on it when you have problems.

I have been following the blogs of some people in fairly complex boats and they have spent quite a bit of money flying people to their locations to work on their boats.
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Old 01-08-2011, 12:00   #5
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Re: Multiplexing: Digital Switching, E-Plex, C-Zone. Have it? Install it? Your opinio

OceanPlanet, GordMay - thank you for the info. I will contact and read.

[OceanPlanet - are you Bruce?]

DeepFrz - the dream is to circumnavigate. My husband and I are electrical/computer engineers, so the plan is to have good documentation, spare parts, and help over the phone if problems should arise.
I posted this question to understand whether people find these systems to be reliable. If they are indeed reliable, then we could deal with wear and tear. If the system, e.g. Mastervolt's, has a botanical garden worth of bugs, then we would not install it. The idea is to sail and not spend time and money helping companies fix their products.
If you don't mind sharing this information, could you please message me some of these blogs? I would love to read them.
Regards from a Torontonian.
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Old 01-08-2011, 12:14   #6
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Re: Multiplexing: Digital Switching, E-Plex, C-Zone. Have it? Install it? Your opinio

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiusha View Post
OceanPlanet, GordMay - thank you for the info. I will contact and read.

[OceanPlanet - are you Bruce?]

DeepFrz - the dream is to circumnavigate. My husband and I are electrical/computer engineers, so the plan is to have good documentation, spare parts, and help over the phone if problems should arise.
I posted this question to understand whether people find these systems to be reliable. If they are indeed reliable, then we could deal with wear and tear. If the system, e.g. Mastervolt's, has a botanical garden worth of bugs, then we would not install it. The idea is to sail and not spend time and money helping companies fix their products.
If you don't mind sharing this information, could you please message me some of these blogs? I would love to read them.
Regards from a Torontonian.
Uh...yes, this is Bruce.
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Old 01-08-2011, 12:26   #7
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Re: Multiplexing: Digital Switching, E-Plex, C-Zone. Have it? Install it? Your opinio

Quote:
Originally Posted by OceanPlanet View Post
Uh...yes, this is Bruce.
Transferred to private messaging...
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Old 01-08-2011, 20:27   #8
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C-zone does have back-up manual fusing. The others used not to have this but not checked recently. Nice to have that redundancy.
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Old 15-10-2011, 17:09   #9
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Re: Multiplexing: Digital Switching, E-Plex, C-Zone. Have it? Install it? Your opinio

don't Don't DON'T Do It! I have a 2011 Lagoon Catamaran 560 Sold to me by the Catamaran Company in Fort Lauderdale. My Friend ALSO has a 2011 Lagoon 560. Both boat have had COMPLETE E-Plex Failures and both Lagoon and the Catamaran Company have no ability to fix the problems. I have not been able to use my boat one time, NOT ONCE and it sits "dead ship" to this day... We both through different law firms have filed suits against both companies. There is currently NO Backup to an E-Plex system. Sorry
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Old 15-10-2011, 19:31   #10
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Re: Multiplexing: Digital Switching, E-Plex, C-Zone - Have it? Install it? Your Opini

Rread an article in the last couple of months by Nigel Calder about his mutiplexed system. A component failed and shut down his entire electrical system until he could get parts.

I would not use it and I am also an electrical engineer. The idea is interesting, would simplify the wiring but it just isn't worth it. KISS rules on a boat. Even if you can diagnose it, to do a board level repair is unlikely at sea or in a remote port unless you a complete electronics spare parts bin or spare boards for all critical parts of the system.
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Old 17-10-2011, 09:36   #11
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Re: Multiplexing: Digital Switching, E-Plex, C-Zone - Have it? Install it? Your Opini

Hello. My name is Jim Kelly of PRS, Co. (OceanPlanet referred to me earlier in the thread) and my company has been a System Integrator/Dealer for the E-Plex product line for 6 years. I wanted to take a few minutes and address some of the E-Plex questions and comments mentioned in this thread.
1) E-Plex is Alive! Contrary to rumors and talk around town the E-Plex product line is alive & well. E-Plex Ltd (UK) purchased the complete E-Plex product line from ED&D in June 2010 and has continued to manufacture and support the product line since that time.
E-Plex LTD also has been introducing new E-Plex components and update/upgrade ELogic software. One highlight of these introductions are the 801iPlex module which allows the use of an iPhone,iPad,iTouch device to be used as user interface to the E-Plex system. Another new product is the Heavy Duty DC module.
2) PRS, Co. continues to be a North American System Integrator/Dealer for E-Plex.
PRS, Co. provides full support for the E-Plex Product Line including new system engineering, and product sales
PRS, Co. continues to make vessel technological advances with E-Plex at the core of the vessel’s electrical system.
PRS, Co. continues to partner E-Plex with a number of other marine suppliers to make even more dynamic systems. Examples:
o E-PLex & Faria Marine Instruments’ Maestro Computer
The Maestro is a PC built by Faria specifically for marine use. With the Maestro connected directly to the E-Plex clock (main CPU), the system offers the following benefits:
True Helm Capable User Interface (Sunlight readable/Weather capable);
Wifi – built in allows boat owner to monitor or control every E-Plex feature remotely via the internet including Smartphone interfaces;
Wifi – PRS & Vessel Manufacturer can remotely access the E-Plex system over the internet for troubleshooting, or system updates/upgrades;
Maestro also a platform for Navigation systems, XM Weather, Security Cameras, iTunes, etc.
o E-Plex & Faria Watchdog
PRS has developed a vessel security system employing the Faria Watchdog System to monitor security sensors as well as E-Plex conditions like battery volts, AC volts, temperatures, etc. The Watchdog is the GSM/SAT link to the Security Website. The Watchdog system also provides GPS vessel tracking & virtual fencing.
o Genasun Lithium Ion Batteries;
o Victron Energy;
o Dometic HVAC;
o Magnum;
o Etc;
3) E-Plex is a viable and reliable option for Multiplexing: Digital Switching
E-Plex has been around for a significant amount of time and appears solid for the time to come;
E-Plex is a System and not a commodity like a switch or circuit breaker, therefore the system needs to be properly specified, engineered and implemented. For a successful implementation of this system (or any Multiplexed system) there needs to be a commitment by the System Integrator and the vessel manufacturer to: understand the requirements of project, spend the time to properly engineer the system (both hardware & software), install the system properly, and thoroughly test the system upon completion.
A properly implemented E-Plex system can be as simple or complex as the manufacturer chooses. A E-Plex system offers features that are just not possible using a traditional electrical solution.
An improperly engineered or implemented digital switching system (E-Plex or others) could be recipe for problems. Unfortunately over the life of digital switching in the marine industry there have been enough examples of improperly designed and implemented systems. These situations have given the whole industry a black eye at times.
With Digital switching and all that it offers there are clearly some possible issues. As we all remember the ancient history of cars switching from carburetors to fuel injection. “But what happens when the engine computer fails?” “When it had a carburetor I could fix it myself”. A move to a Digital switching system is not different from those same feelings. The vessel manufacturer and the customer need to contemplate and understand the potential need for replacement parts and or the ability to troubleshoot the system.
Digital Switching is not the Magic Pill for every situation. E-Plex is the proper and great solution for a large number of vessel manufacturers, but it isn’t necessarily the solution for every marine vessel manufactured. I highly recommend that all interested potential customers study the available systems and find the most fit solution for your unique situation.
Generally, you will find that E-Plex will be the best solution based on system capabilities and features, reliability and cost.
4) Lastly to address ConTGo’s comments.
On 9/13/2011, my company was contacted by a vessel owner of a Lagoon catamaran based in Ft. Lauderdale. I am not sure if ConTGo is that person or not. But the situation seems fairly similar. The owner reported to me that he had a complete E-Plex failure and most likely needed to replace every E-Plex component on the vessel, saying he suspected a potential lightning hit to/near the vessel.
Over the following 2 weeks I worked with this owner to prepare quotations for the replacement of every E-Plex part on the vessel. I did so at the owner’s request all the while telling the customer that my experience with E-Plex made me doubt that every E-Plex component on his vessel was broken and in need of replacing. During this time I also directly contacted E-Plex LTD and through them also the manufacturer of the Lagoon vessel about this issue. PRS had a game plan in place to assist the vessel owner with a real diagnosis of the problem his vessel was experiencing either remotely over the internet or by sending a service person to his location.
As of 9/26/2011, PRS has had no further contact from the Lagoon owner in Ft. Lauderdale.
E-Plex systems and products are supported. I sincerely hope that this customer or any other E-Plex customers that have questions or issues contact me.

Jim Kelly
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Old 21-10-2011, 11:14   #12
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Re: Multiplexing: Digital Switching, E-Plex, C-Zone - Have it? Install it? Your Opini

Hi Jim! I believe it was the other Lagoon 560 you looked at but... In any event, the fact that there are only 2 Lagoon 560's in Ft Laud and both had complete failures? Wow! Also, you make reference to the fuel inject issue on cars and I can appreciate that analogy except it wont apply while 200 miles out to sea. There are NO BACKUP systems for the Lagoon. Again, no navigation, lights, toilets, electrical sockets, nothing.. and ask yourself ... What would you do? Dont try and use the radio ... It doesn't work! E-Plex
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Old 21-10-2011, 12:21   #13
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Re: Multiplexing: Digital Switching, E-Plex, C-Zone - Have it? Install it? Your Opini

ConTGo:

Thanks for your response.

1) I am not saying that there are 2 boats with complete failures. It does appear that there are 2 boats with significant problems. These problems may or may not be E-Plex related. In the other boat I know that the main CPU unit is talking to a local computer and thus it has a problem with E-Plex communication bus. In your case, until we do some additional troubleshooting, I don't know what your issue is.

2) If there are 2 vessels with issues that appear to be the same, my guess is that there is a possibility there are similiar reasons for the difficulties. I would imagine that we should be able to diagnose them fairly easily. It might be something as simple as a incorrect fuse size on the main power to the CPU. The CPU in use on these boats are extremely stable so I believe there might be something unique about the design/installation that has led to these difficulties.

3) Fuel Injection and relativity... In the case of a Fuel Injected car in the early 1980's in the middle of North Dakota... it is like being 200 miles out to sea.

4) All DC E-Plex modules have manual overrides. If the module has DC power and is not talking to the CPU, a user can activate the output with the white button on the module. Even AC modules have manual over rides.

5) As for the radio, and for that matter any vessel operational items (at least enough to limp home) never gets solely connected to E-Plex components in a PRS designed system. There is no reason complicate the wiring of a simple system like the main vessel radio to E-Plex when a simple fuse/circuit breaker is all that is required.

6) As I said in my earlier post: "For a successful implementation of this system (or any Multiplexed system) there needs to be a commitment by the System Integrator and the vessel manufacturer to: understand the requirements of project, spend the time to properly engineer the system (both hardware & software), install the system properly, and thoroughly test the system upon completion."

7) Per the rules of this forum, I am not allowed to insert sales information, websites, or email addresses. That being said please find the manufacturer of E-Plex and begin a discussion about the problem you are having. I am fully confident that a solution can be found, and I am fully confident that there are companies that can provide the necessary support for you.

Jim


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Old 21-10-2011, 12:44   #14
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Re: Multiplexing: Digital Switching, E-Plex, C-Zone - Have it? Install it? Your Opini

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, PRS-Jim.

As Jim notes, I’d contact E-Plex, or one of theire dealers (such as PRS).

Precision Race Services, Inc. (PRS)
16749 Dixie Highway Suite 9, Davisburg, MI 48350
Tel: (248) 634-4010 office
Fax: (248) 634-4014
Jim Kelly’s Email: jkelly@p-r-s.com

PRS Web ➥ E-Plex Multiplexing Technology

E-Plex Dealers Worldwide ➥ E-Plex.co - Dealers & Downloads
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Old 21-10-2011, 13:57   #15
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Re: Multiplexing: Digital Switching, E-Plex, C-Zone - Have it? Install it? Your Opini

Just an update from our side: based on our boat builder's advice we've decided to go with C-Zone from BEP Marine: Overview

They had a thorough look at E-Plex and felt that it was too similar to Mastervolt in terms of complexity and design approach. They think that C-Zone provides a simpler, distributed, and more rugged system.
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